The City that Barks and Roars by J.T. Bird is a fantastic mystery about animals that live in a huge community called Noah’s Kingdom. The book focuses on who they all are and how they live together on the right and wrong sides of the law. Each one has a special personality with strengths and weaknesses like real people do. Much of the story’s action-packed suspense revolves around the police department trying to find a missing panda detective named Lucas and three suspicious beaver brothers from The Swamp. Lucas’s former partner, grouchy Frank Penguin, winds up joining forces with younger, sassy out-of-towner Chico Monkey. Along with other interesting police characters, they track down clues related to the disappearances all over town. When they feel like they don’t have much to go on sometimes, they're still determined to find the victims and capture the kidnappers. As they finally think they’re unraveling what happened, they encounter one mad-cap surprise right after another. The case is amazing the more unexpected, complicated, and involved it gets! Through it all, the main characters show off how to take unexpected situations in stride while pursuing truth and justice.
I couldn’t put The City that Barks and Roars down! I think teens and adults would like this book best. Some of its content could be considered mature for kids 12 years old, but I don’t think anything in it is offensive or scary. It’s a well-developed story with detailed description not only about the mystery but also about the lively community and all of its different animals. Some of them even have their portraits included. Their colorful personalities and the full range of human emotions they possess add quite a bit to the plot. Religious references interwoven with smoking, betting, bribery, and nightclub scenes were interesting to read side by side because as different from one another as these topics are, the zany story still makes sense. I especially like the British writing style and how the characters banter back and forth with one another in funny ways. In spite of the serious crime-fighting going on, this makes the story light-hearted to read. The best part of the book is how the author ties up all of the loose ends. I like knowing what happens next with the most important characters when the story’s over.